SweetWater 420 Fest 2017 lineup includes Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio Band

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Widespread Panic will headline SweetWater 420 Fest next year.
Widespread Panic will headline SweetWater 420 Fest next year.

Widespread Panic will headline SweetWater 420 Fest next year.

Jam-rock fans have seven months to prepare to get their groove on for the next installment of the SweetWater 420 Festival.

Widespread Panic and the Trey Anastasio Band headline the 2017 event, which will take place April 21-23 at Centennial Olympic Park.

In a bit of a twist, Widespread Panic will play four sets over two nights and the Trey Anastasio Band will play two sets on its one headlining night.

Other artists slated to perform include Slightly Stoopid, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Dark Star Orchestra, Anders Osborne, Twiddle, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds and The Hip Abduction.

“We’re just getting started here,” said Jennifer Bensch, president of Happy Ending Productions, which produces the fest.

More than 45 acts will be announced in January; in the past, the lineup for SweetWater 420 Fest has been unveiled later in the year, but Bensch said because of the increase in attendees from various states and countries, organizers wanted to give fans a longer lead time to plan.

The 2017 itinerary, she said, will “go hand in hand with SweetWater’s patrons’ tastes, so it will skew a little more jam and rock. But we still pride ourselves on the diversity of the lineup.”

At this year’s production in April, acts ranging from Kid Rock to the Disco Biscuits to Ludacris to Bastille took to the four stages scattered around the park.

While Athens-based Widespread Panic recently announced that the band was nixing road life, they’ll still play festivals and a handful of specific shows each year.

“There’s a lot of excitement for them in our market and a lot of serious Widespread Panic fans at the brewery, too,” Bensch said.

The ticket price for the 13th annual SweetWater 420 Fest will remain unchanged from 2016, with early bird prices starting at $89 for a three-day general admission pass and $243 for a three-day VIP pass. Tickets are on sale now at www.sweetwater420fest.com.

Additionally, the festival will be a little longer – with music starting at 1 p.m. each of the three days (in the past, the Friday play began in late afternoon).

While attendance slipped from close to 80,000 in 2015 to about 45,000 this year for the three-day span of the festival – the third time it was held at Centennial Olympic Park after years in the cozy confines of Candler Park – Bensch is encouraged by the growth of the festival’s reach. According to her figures, attendees this year arrived from more than 48 states and 22 countries.

In addition to the music, fans can engage in beer tastings and interactions with brewers in the SweetWater Experience tent, hear comedy and burgeoning musical acts on the Lyrics & Laughter stage and check out the 420 Disco and the Planet 420 environmental, non-profit village.

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